Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Truth about Lactivists

In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month I want to clear up common misconceptions about lactivists (lactation activists). I do not speak for all lactivists, and I am sorry if you have been treated rudely by any breastfeeding advocates.

Myth: Lactivists judge formula feeding moms.
Truth: Lactivists judge formula companies. We understand that formula is a needed and life-saving food for many babies, and because we care about babies getting the best, we demand more responsibility and accountability from formula companies. False claims, incorrect breastfeeding advice, recalls, and unsafe preparation guidelines are avoidable problems moms should not have to face.

Furthermore, we want to help women make informed choices. While we support the legitimate needs many have to use formula, we do not think moms should base formula feeding on perpetuated falsehoods such as formula and breastmilk are not different, breastfeeding is disgusting or sexual, or breastfeeding ruins breasts (which, even if it did, I unapologetically think is a very shallow reason not to do it). We are here to give the knowledge and support some women need to make the choice to breastfeed.

We are also human, so things we say or do may be insensitive and we apologize for any hurt feelings or judgment passed.

Myth: Lactivists believe that only 2 percent of women cannot breastfeed.
Truth: True, but that doesn't mean we believe breastfeeding is easy and natural for the remaining 98 percent. It may only be possible after an overwhelming amount of time, effort, money, help, pain, frustration, supplements, pumping, etc., which not all women are understandably willing or capable of doing. Or it may not be possible due to problems the baby has. So yes, only 2 percent truly cannot produce any milk at all, but many more women experience setbacks that make it just as impossible. Even those who have mostly easy breastfeeding journeys experience at least one problem, like clogged ducts or over supply.

Myth: Lactivists believe all women should nurse in public, uncovered no less!
Truth: Lactivists believe all women should have the right to nurse in public, including uncovered, if they choose to. Nursing rooms are most welcome too since not all women (or babies) desire to nurse in public places or in extreme weather. The point is to make breastfeeding normal and not such a big deal, no matter where or how it's done. We actually don't want all the attention! (Though I'm sure there are extremists out there who enjoy making a scene.)

Myth: Lactivists think babies should be nursed until 4 years old.
Truth: Lactivists support nursing however long both mother and baby are comfortable with. We do not believe in setting an artificial age limit. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends "continued breastfeeding beyond the first birthday as long as mutually desired by mother and child." According to the World Health Organization, most toddlers naturally wean between 2 and 4 years old. Since that is an average, of course there are littles ones who wean sooner and later. The AAP confirmed breastfed toddlers are "certainly still benefiting from the nutritional and immunologic benefits" and "emotional support is a perfectly legitimate aspect of breastfeeding."

Are there any other myths I overlooked? Do you consider yourself a lactivist?


DAD said...

thanks for keeping us abreast of the situation

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